Sunday, January 1, 2012

Reading Room: Adventures Dark & Deep - Player's Manual (Part 1)

Adventures Dark & Deep, an RPG written by Joseph Bloch and carefully playtested by a community of gamers at the ADD message boards, has been of interest to me for the past year.

The conceit of this set of rules (which claims not to be a retro-clone) is that it is a "what-if" type of ruleset (placing it in the Alterclone or Neoclone arena), positing that the rules contain within might be what the AD&D 2nd Edition ruleset would look like if E. Gary Gygax hadn't left TSR when he did.

I'm only covering the Player's Manual (and only a small portion of it right now), but there is a Bestiary and a Gamemaster's toolkit for the curious -- also available for free on RPGNow.

Character Classes

They key area of interest for me is the character classes, and this is primarily due to my upcoming work in Enigmundia.

In Adventures Dark & Deep, there are a series of core character classes, with several other character classes known as sub-classes -- classes that give more special abilities than the core class but also have more stringent requirements. Let's take a look at them, how they are described in the book, and how I plan to use them:

Bard
A performer and entertainer, but one with the ability to cast spells through their music and songs. They specialize in manipulating the emotions and feelings of others.
I can use this in my Zan Lazario setting, though I'd prefer to expand this to other performing arts such as stage plays and storytelling. Just to break away from the image of the lute-playing bard. This tradition would probably come from both the "Spanish" equivalent and the "Filipino" equivalent cultures.

Jester (Bard sub-class)
Another sort of performer, but focused on distraction and misdirection. They rely mostly on their verbal patter and entertainment skills, but at higher levels gain some ability to cast spells.
Interesting, and comes across as an alternative to the more traditionally-trained bards, it's curious that it's a sub-class instead. May have to study it further as to integration into the setting.

Cavalier
The proverbial knight in shining armor who follows a strict code of chivalry. The cavalier is a skilled warrior, with a focus on horsemanship and melee weapons. They are forbidden most sorts of missile weapons, feeling them to be less than chivalrous.
Huh, that's interesting -- a class with missile weapons proscribed. Not so sure how that will work given the existence of gunpowder at the time, but it can help with the feel by reducing the presence of bows and arrows with the higher up military types. These guys can be from the Ispanialo (Spanish) noble families or from the warrior culture of the Katao (indigenous Filipinos).

Paladin (Cavalier sub-class)
A holy warrior. All paladins must be of lawful good alignment, and follows a code of behavior even more strict than that of the cavalier. He possesses innate powers to help combat evil, and at higher levels gain the ability to cast clerical spells.
Defenders of the faiths will be interesting in Zan Lazario, but they should be rare.

Cleric
The cleric is a priest, who may serve some deity or even an entire religious pantheon. They are skilled in combat, may wear any sort of armor, and have the ability to cast spells, most of which are geared towards healing, divination, and protection.
The presence of a Catholic Church-inspired faction is very important in Enigmundia's Zan Lazario, so these are obviously a must-have.

Druid (Cleric sub-class)
A priest dedicated not to a god or gods, but to Nature itself. They are limited in the armor they can wear, but their spells are very effective in dealing with the natural world, plants, and animals. At the highest levels, they are effective at manipulating the very elements themselves.
I'd make these guys to be the main mystical opposition to the clerics with a little reskinning. They're not necessarily enemies, but they're the main spell-casting opposition of the colonizers, hampered by a tendency to be anti-social and a territorial gunslinger culture.

Mystic (Cleric sub-class)
Another sort of priest, but one who attempts to come to an understanding of, and ultimately become one with, the multiverse itself. Their spells emphasize personal development and harmony with the universe.
Another indigenous tradition in Zan Lazario, these guys would tend to be more mentors and spiritual advisors to the leaders of the various local kingdoms and warrior clans.

Next Up:
Fighter, Barbarian (Fighter sub-class), Ranger (Fighter sub-class)
Mage, Illusionist (Mage sub-class), Savant (Mage sub-class)
Thief, Acrobat (Thief sub-class), Mountebank (Thief sub-class)

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